Updated: Aug 21
At a time when the concept of sustainability was still unknown, the incredible ability of Italian art, as the result of millennia of tradition, expresses the liaison with the natural world and its ‘divine’ beauty. During the Monaco Art Week 2022, Moretti Fine Art brought to light the Ninfa (Nymph), an exquisite sculpture dated 1860 by Santo Varni, Genoese artist and maximum expression of what has been defined the purest sculpture, inspired by the solemnity of the fifteenth century Tuscany. His constant reference to the Natural world made him popular from his apprenticeship in Florence as follower of Lorenzo Bartolini. He is therefore commissioned many commemorative works whose symbolism is even more evident by his fondness for history of ancient art and archaeology. Varni acted then as a key figure in the transition between Neoclassicism to the Romanticism, representing also a point of reference in the cultural panorama of Genoa as well as a refined art collector. He also became official portrait painter of the House of Savoy and adviser to Prince Odone member of the same royal family. He was acknowledged with various honours crowned, in 1881, with the appointment of Commander of the Crown of Italy.
The Ninfa’s kalokagathia (beautiful and good), in reference to the Greek Mythology, represents the harmonious appearance of a young woman at the height of her years, completely adorned with elements that recall the sea. Seashells of all shapes, urchins and sizes and coral branches adorn the bust embellishing her garments. A possible allegoric reference to the Mediterranean Sea embodied by the nice lady sensuously covered by a wet shirt. As recalled in the presentation of the masterpiece, Nature is depicted in its most pastoral and silvan form. The Nymph herself seems to be continuously generated by the natural elements at the base of the statue through a metamorphic process. The nobility of materials and refined details create harmonious compositions of lines that seem almost moving lively the waves of the sea.
The Ninfa represents an exquisite visual metaphor of marine biodiversity, wonderful and fragile at the same time. An almost divine entity that deserves respect and commitment to preserve it as intact as possible.
To know more about Ninfa by Santo Varni and other masterpieces of the Italian artistic tradition please visit: Moretti Fine Art
By Maurice Abbati